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Kurtenbach: Are Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler a packaged deal for the SF Giants?

Kurtenbach: Are Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler a packaged deal for the SF Giants?

Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi will return for their respective contracts’ final seasons in 2024.

In comments to the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday, Giants owner Greg Johnson made it official — again.

But what about after next year?

With this Giants’ season proving to be a Rorschach test for fans and media alike, it’s fair to wonder if this organization’s long-term future involves both men.

Moreover, it left me wondering if Zaidi — who hired Kapler in 2018 without serious looks at other managerial candidates — sees the manager and himself as a packaged deal.

“I think with any GM, when you hire a manager, there’s some joint responsibility there. I don’t know whether the two of us view ourselves as a package deal — whether it’s in baseball or socially or anything like that — but there’s joint responsibility,” Zaidi told me and Adam Copeland Thursday afternoon on KNBR. “There’s an aspiration for us to be better, certainly, but we’ve been a consistently competitive team under his watch. And I think we all appreciate that in terms of the job he’s done.”

I’m still waiting on an answer there, Farhan.

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So let’s dig a bit deeper: Does Zaidi, the Giants’ top baseball decision-maker, plan on holding contract extension negotiations with his manager this offseason?

“He’s obviously under contract through next year. So, as we go through, you know, whether it’s internal employees or Kap himself, I’m sure that’ll come up. Not trying to punt on the question, but we’ve got a number of employees whose contracts are up this year — that’s always the priority,” Zaidi said.

Mitch Wishnowsky would be proud of that hang time.

There is one kernel of truth to be gleaned from this bushel of words: It doesn’t sound like extending Kapler is Zaidi’s call to make.

And while that’s understandable given his own contract situation, but it does stand in contrast to a few years ago.

Keep an eye on that space.

And for the record, I don’t know what the right decision is for the Giants when it comes to Zaidi, Kapler, or the single entity I call FarGabe. Extending either seems bold, given where the organization is in the National League pecking order, but starting over in the front office, dugout, or both would be just as preposterous.

Yes, the Giants have been competitive (for playoff spots, not titles). And while Zaidi can over-tinker with the 40-man, his issues, I believe, have been tied to money, not talent evaluation.

Kapler, meanwhile, is a character, and not in a lovable way. He’s been the manager of the Giants for four years, and a small part of me still thinks he’s a world-class performance artist putting on an act. A classic baseball man, he is not. And that makes him an even easier scapegoat than most managers when a team struggles.

There were positive stretches this season where Kapler managed at an elite level. There have also been stretches where he’s looked vexed on that top step in the dugout.

This team making the postseason — or not — will be informative.

But the correct question to ask with both men going into lame-duck years should be: “Who would replace them?”

Any list is filled with projection and wishful thinking. Sourcing top candidates for manager; no one has managed in the big leagues. David Stearns, the top candidate to replace Zaidi, just took the Mets job.

Then again, were the Giants really going to pay Mets money?

Overall, it sounds like the Giants are in wait-and-see mode with Zaidi and Kapler in 2024. Given the fan sentiment, that is probably the smart thing for the organization to do.

But it also gives Zaidi and Kapler — if they are a packaged deal — the chance to look at other opportunities, too.

And I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they take it.